UXD and Me

UXD and Me

Introduction

In this article I am going to talk about User Experience Design concepts and how I am going to apply them to my project. Writing this article should help me in developing better understand of User Experience Design in general and help me to progress in developing a website for my major project. I will start by introducing my website idea, followed by discussion about User Experience Design concepts combined with thoughts on how they can be applied to my project.

My project concept

I am planning to develop a website with information about tips and tricks people who love or would like to try hiking, camping, living in wildness, fishing and more, but worried about safety, unexpected situations, or simply have questions on how to do certain things like starting a fire, putting a tent together etc. Initial version will be informational only, but at later stage I am planning to make it interactive, with games and tests to earn badges similar to scout activity badges.

Research objectives

Important part of the research is to set research objectives, intention of which is to help to determine a clear goal of what I am planning to achieve with my project. An appropriate methodology must be chosen and research objectives with help with that.

There are various research methodologies available, but it is a good idea to start any research by looking at existing research first, and this is what I am planning to do first. I am not expecting to find any good existing research, therefore I will be conduction my own research by using surveys and feedbacks via various social media platforms, emails and interviews. One part of the research will be indirect, which will help to gather most vital information and potentially have most of answers. At the next stage there will be a direct research conducted via interviews, which is going to improve quality of the research by gaining additional information, which will hopefully help to answer the remaining questions.

The research should help to get a better picture about competitors and what kind of information is already available, how easy it is to find this information, how relevant and easy to understand this information is, importance of fun factor – is it important for user to have an interactive way of learning new information and get rewarded for learning, also how relevant this information is to visitors from various geographical locations.

By conducting this research, I will be able to understand the needs of the users, their journey to the source of information, their struggles, problems and emotions, and thanks to this information I will be able to develop an appropriate solution according to the user needs.

Research

User research is about learning user needs, motivation, behaviours, barriers and triggers, and how they make certain decisions.

Sampling

Initial research will be conducted using a short survey distributed online, potentially via various social media platforms. There are lots of existing groups on social media, which can be used to gather information. I will be honest about the research intentions and explain to the users how their data will be used and what will happen to it after the research. It is very important for the participants to understand what they are signing up for and they will have an option to opt-out at any time.

It is very important not to waste user’s time by determining right at the beginning if this user is “our user”. It could be that the survey is completely irrelevant to the user, so by asking questions about how active they are, if they like camping, hiking, if they do, how often they do it, and if not, maybe they are planning to do it in near future. By asking these questions right at the beginning, we will make sure the next set of questions will be relevant to them and quality of answers will be more appropriate. Other questions could be around their knowledge on how to do certain things while hiking or camping, how confident they are about their knowledge, if they ever been in any emergency or tricky situation and if they feel that it would be good to expand their knowledge in order to increase their confidence and minimise risk factor if they get into emergency or tricky situation.

Next part of the survey will be around existing knowledge and how it was gathered. This will help to learn about other unknown competitors. Some questions could be around some activities, for example starting a fire without being able to google how to do it. Some people might be completely relying on internet when preparing for a trip, but some might spend some time preparing by reading information online or even buying a book.

After gathering the above information there will be some additional questions around geographical location of the user, cultural background, age group, occupation and more. It is important to understand who our potentials users are. This information will help to create user profiles, which can have a significant impact on the design ideas and informational context.

Usability testing and user profiles

User profiles can help with the research and to understand the user needs. Survey information will help to create user profiles. I will target 3 or more different groups of people, for example one group could be parents with underage children, another group could be couples, then other groups could be single or lonely people. I will be conducting a discovery research, so I will be speaking up to 5 users per group.

Each group of people will perform a list of tasks, all tasks will be predefined in such a way so that they do not give direct or indirect answers. Users will have to make decisions based on their previous experience or existing knowledge. Some will be, for example to find information on how to start a fire in wet weather conditions, or how to build a dry shelter for overnight stay in a forest. User behaviour will be monitored while research is conducted to understand patterns user follows to find the information required, what obstacles they encountered and level of difficulty of completing the tasks.

After tasks are completed, the users will get interviewed to gather information about their experience searching for information and about their experience on the websites they have visited. What did they like about the websites and what they did not like or even hated. Users will be able to make suggestions and highlight issues they had, which is very valuable information and can make a significant impact on my website development.

After the interviews the data will be analysed and organised into journey map or initially into multiple journey maps, and survey data will help to have a better picture about the type of users and I will be able to create user profiles.

Analysing data

Analysing data helps us to get answers and find solutions to our problems, which will lead to the development of a better product. One of the ways to structure the data is journey maps. I will use gathered information to create user journey maps. Journey maps help to visualise the process of completing a task or solving a problem. In other words, it is a timeline with a list of user actions combined with their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Also, at the early stage of research we had groups of users, but by analysing survey and interview data, we will be able to create user profiles or personas. When research is conducted, specific objective is set be achieved, which creates an output that communicates our findings. In order to have personas that can be used, it has to match the needs of the project team, project team should understand the personas and understand why they are useful, team has to be involved in creating them, and everyone should understand the value of personas.

Another way to analyse data is to create job statements, in the form “When { situation } I want to { motivation } So I can { expected outcome }”. This model could also be useful to determine in what kind of situations visitors might be motivated to visit my website and what kind of outcome they expect to get.

Implementation and prototype

My plan is to start working on the content first, come with the best categories for each content type, size of each block of information, to use or not to use media. If I decide to use media, what kind of media it will be. I will be deciding if I should use photographs or illustrations, also for some topics videos could be more beneficial to the user. After having planning initial content, and categorising it, I will work on grouping these categories and creating a navigation for the website. It is very important to categorise and group information correctly according to most searchable information, for example. Initially it might be challenging to decide which information should go where, as I might not have enough information on how popular some searches could be compared to other. I will have to make some adjustments at later stage and reshuffle content when I know which pages are more visited than others.

At the next stage of developing prototype, I will work on the home page and content pages. I will design few layout designs with different types of illustrations or images and might use social media to get users to vote for the best or make suggestions how to improve them. I assume it will take some time and many sketches to achieve the best result. I have to pick the most appropriate typesetting and colour scheme.

Next stage will be to work on the smaller and less important components, for example logo, what to put in the footer, shall I have my own social media, and if yes, content generation for the social media. I will have to work on SEO and come up with a way of tracking visits to the website and each page, so that I could make improvements to the navigation and content of the website. I will need a contact or feedback form, as any feedback will help me to make improvements to the website.

Next, I will work on the responsive design making sure the website works well on every device, content is readable and presented nicely. I expect most of the traffic to my website to come from mobile devices, so I will use mobile first design approach to focus on the best user experience for mobile users.

I will use agile implementation methodology, meaning that after each iteration of developing my website I will get it tested, get as much feedback as possible, analyse feedback, make a plan of improvements to make, and go back to design phase followed by implementation and back to testing again. I think is a great approach and it is used by many companies. This way I will be able to achieve a better result in shorter period of time.

Testing

Initially there will be lots of functional testing to make sure the  website is working as expected and it functions correctly on different devices when opened using different browsers. I will try to get all my friends and family involved in the initial testing, but after going through the whole cycle of implementation, I will get people to test it by using social media to promote my website and drive some initial traffic to the website. Or could get students at university to participate in testing the website, which at least might help me to identify and fix any bugs.

Conclusion

Writing this article helped me to have a better understanding of User Experience Design concepts and make an initial plan of the research, design, implementation and testing phases. There is still a lot to learn and to improve in terms of User Experience Design, but I am on the right track. I am planning to learn more about User Experience Design to reflect on this article in couple of weeks’ time.

References

The Interaction Design Foundation. 2022. What is User Experience (UX) Design?. [online] Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design [Accessed 4 January 2022].

Ideas. 2022. What Is UX Design? User Experience Definition | Adobe XD Ideas. [online] Available at: https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/career-tips/what-is-ux-design/ [Accessed 4 January 2022].

CareerFoundry. 2022. What Is UX Design? [Fully Updated Guide For 2022]. [online] Available at: https://careerfoundry.com/en/blog/ux-design/what-is-user-experience-ux-design-everything-you-need-to-know-to-get-started/ [Accessed 5 January 2022].

Medium. 2022. A comprehensive list of UX design methods & deliverables (2021). [online] Available at: https://uxdesign.cc/a-comprehensive-list-of-ux-design-methods-deliverables-2021-2feb3e70e168 [Accessed 5 January 2022].

Medium. 2022. Most Common UX Design Methods and Techniques. [online] Available at: https://uxplanet.org/most-common-ux-design-methods-and-techniques-c9a9fdc25a1e [Accessed 6 January 2022].

Uiuxtrend.com. 2022. [online] Available at: https://uiuxtrend.com/user-experience-ux-process/ [Accessed 7 January 2022].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.